I read with interest your latest contribution to the Times’ “blogging” columns. The title, I guess, said it all (A campus of self-entitled twerps) although you did specify from the very start that generalisations can be odious.
To be quite honest I too have begun to wonder recently whether the quality of of our beloved Alma Mater’s end product is deteriorating at a faster rate than the Desserta chocolates of yesteryear. My observation is that students seem to start university with – yes, you said it – that sense of self-entitlement that ultimately means that “since I made it to day one then I am entitled to the final degree – whatever garbage I produce in the interim”.
I am fully aware that my observation too is a generalisation. I am quite sure that an independent observer who would have peeked at our behaviour during the law course years of the vintage class of ’99 when we shared the benches at the hallowed halls of Tal-Qroqq might have found a thing or two to say about our levels of distraction. Anecdotes and reminiscences apart the point is that I believe that notwithstanding the (perceived or real) fluctuating standards of readers at university we might be dealing – in all probability - with a constant that has persevered through the ages ever since the first universities were set up from Bologna to Cambridge i.e. the boring lecturer.
Let us not, after all, be distracted by the latest form of distractions available (be they facebook equipped netbooks or twitter enabled smartphones) and concentrate for a moment on the actual issue at hand. A lecturer has been told, in not too indirect a manner, that his delivery during lectures is as boring as a buzzing fly. Less interesting actually. It’s not always easy to point fingers at the persons who will be armed with that marking pen at the end of the semester. I still have fond memories of my “friends” patting me on the back after my not too kind graduation speech criticising the mess at the faculty of Law back in 1996 (B.A.). “Good luck with finishing the course” said many a sarcastic bastard.
Newton (Sir Isaac of gravity and refraction) is said to have penned a list of forty problems that he intended to tackle in science during a particularly boring lecture. Amicus Plato amicus Aristotle magis amica veritas – he prefaced: truth is a better friend. So it has been through the ages where many a supposed deliverer of truth managed only to deliver sleep-inducing drones. Need I cite our own experiences? Best not.
Yes Ramona. While I would probably stand by you (and many another) in a call for more exacting standards for today’s studying masses I would also be prepared to audi alteram partem and see whether the alleged perpetrator of mass boredom by power point was guilty of anything.
And that is where I’ve got a problem. For the alleged Mr Boredom of the hundred or more slides is none other than part-time internet troll Antoine Vella. The very man who never missed an occasion to remind J’accuse and its readers how boring the content of this site was according to his most venerable opinion (when he was not seconding other “interesting” personalities in calling me such names as wanker or whatever playground term was popular at the time).
Yes Ramona, I am biased because the man who was unable to keep a lecture theatre ever so slightly interested in whatever he was on about is a ubiquitous troll of the internet kind. His activity online might also explain why he will probably find many a defender in some circles of the net where he is considered less boring and slightly more droll.
I’d suggest a litmus test before judging whether students or lecturer was at tort in this case. Before descending into vulgar generalisation or risking ad hominem arguments we should allow Vella a chance to counter this accusation. This is why J’accuse is willing to allow Vella to make use of the modern technologies that he targeted in his letter and to provide us with the full power point presentation that we would gladly carry on our site as Exhibit Number 1 – while willingly risking the possibility of boring our esteemed readers to death (again, he would say).
We’ll let the audience be the judges of that no? They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating… it’s either that or eat humble pie.
What do you say Antoine?